Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), in autumn colour. Simply saying its title normally triggers detrimental reactions. This lovely native species is among the many most despised members of our flora. It does include urushiol, the energetic compound that causes blistering dermatitis amongst those that are allergic to it (and that is most individuals).
Paradoxically, we (individuals) are the trigger for the abundance of this opportunistic winner. Poison Ivy is a successional species, thriving in disturbed habitats. And we have created no scarcity of disturbances by which it could possibly thrive. It might be fascinating to beam again to pre-settlement North America to see what Poison Ivy’s standing was then. My hunch: not practically so widespread, and principally confined to areas of pure disturbances.
A Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) snacks on the yellowish-white berries of Poison Ivy. This hardy warbler winters as far north because the northern states within the jap U.S. The abundance of Poison Ivy and its copious fruit are a serious cause why – perhaps THE major cause. Yellow-rumps develop into extremely frugivorous in late fall and winter, and actually go for these berries. Birds, clearly, usually are not inclined to urushiol’s toxicity. Certainly, I’m wondering if any non-Homo sapiens animals are.
Whereas exploring a central Ohio park the opposite day, huge digicam rig in hand, I used to be happy to return throughout a big combined foraging flock of birds. I heard the chips of Yellow-rumped Warblers from afar, and noticed many American Robins, just a few Northern Glints, and different species. As I slowly moved in, I noticed the rationale for the flock: a variety of timber draped with vines of Poison Ivy closely laden with fruit.
Superior! I really like coming throughout such a state of affairs in winter, as – from only a images perspective – it means the potential for many fascinating pictures. From a bird-watcher’s perspective, the ivy-attracted birds imply a number of fascinating observations. Certain sufficient, within the hour or so I stood quietly watching and photographing, a Cooper’s Hawk made a go by way of, and a younger Purple-shouldered Hawk did the identical. The previous cleared everybody out, and it took about fifteen minutes for the state of affairs to rebound. The latter had little influence on the birds’ conduct. They know that the comparatively sluggish and clumsy Buteo has little probability of bagging a small speedy songbird.
A Music Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) amongst an ocean of fruit. It plucked and downed many. Whereas Yellow-rumped Warblers are conspicuous, ceaselessly give their distinctive tchek! calls, and infrequently forage increased within the vines, the sparrows usually stay low and feed quietly.
An American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea) works the ivy. A number of of his colleagues have been close by.
I noticed a variety of different species grabbing Poison Ivy berries, however could not get pictures. There are dozens of potential candidates that may snack on the fruit. I’ve even seen big Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) hanging agilely from the vines, pulling off berries.
The sheer variety of fruit on this specific Poison Ivy honey gap implies that the location must be productive for a while to return, and I look ahead to returning, digicam in hand.